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April 24, 1991 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-04-24

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Pge 12- The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, April 24, 1991

Feelies make

white-bread heat

by Peter Shapiro
IP the Feelies' semi-rural sound-
scpe, the urban decadence of Lou
R eed and the Velvet Underground
resonates with the ringing inspira-
tion of voyeurism to which dis-
placed suburban outcasts are bound
to be drawn. This is not to say that
the Feelies are cultural tourists, but
when "Sister Ray" first hits the ear
drums of folks who have never
smoked a joint, much less gotten a
blow job before, the only possible
reaction has to be, "I wish I was at
that party."
"Sister Ray" marks the begin-
nijng of music for the Feclies, as it
does for a lot of other hopeless
geeks teetering on the edge of cas-
cading down to the underworld that
Reed describes. It's more than guitar
distortion taken to its excruciating
limits of excess and "noise," more
than the lyrical charm of Reed's
"sucking on my ding-dong" im-
agery, more than notions of collec-
tive improvisation that Mingus and
Coleman brought to the world of
rock 'n' roll - there's something
about those opening chords and Mo
Tucker's devastatingly constant
drum pulse.
"Sister Ray" mainlines the
uiversality suggested by the I-IV-
V of "Gloria" and "Louie, Louie,"
ingests the wretched bombast of
psychedelia like "Inna Gadda Da
Vida," and absorbs the Eastern
nysticism of John Coltrane to cre-
ate a chaotic, bubbling kernel of
primal noise that reduces music to
its molecular structure in order to
produce the purest crescendo of
beauty born from discord.
Although nowhere near as
grandiose, the Feelies' music works
along similar lines. At their best,
which is live or on songs like
.Slipping (Into Something)" from
The Good Earth or the title track

Moore's thoughts
are hardly mortal
Mortal Thoughts
dir. Alan Rudolph
by Gregg Flaxman
The use of slow-motion in Mortal Thoughts is so excessive that the
film might have been mercifully cut to an hour. That would have meant
one less hour in the company of post-Ghost Demi Moore and the
goateed Bruce Willis, one less hour of the shamelessly over-dubbed
heartbeat and synthesized whale sounds meant to manufacture
Simply: Cynthia (Demi) is white trash in what I can only guess to be
New Jersey. If you've never been to Trenton or never met that cousin
from Newark, Mortal Thoughts may be your last chance to experience
the cultural Third World. In any case, Cynthia offers information to
the police about the murder of her best friend's husband, James
(bearded, bedeviled Bruce). The film wavers between the present police
interrogation (captured by the cops on film) and Cynthia's flashbacks.
There's even a flashback within a flashback. Deconstructive? Self-
reflexive narrative? Rat's ass.
As for the shrouded secret at the film's core - I will reveal it. As a
courtesy to Demi's faithful and all those hipsters who still listen to
that "Bruno" album that Bruce put out in that brief half-hour when
somebody considered him hip, read no further. Cynthia gives the cops
the dope on how her best friend, hair-dresser extraordinaire and co-
worker Joyce (Glenn Headly) killed her lecherous, pill-popping
husband, James. But wait: the two women covered up the crime. Then,
Joyce became suspicious; Cynthia's husband became nervous; Joyce
killed him too. But wait: it turns out that Joyce didn't even kill James
in the first place. It was really Demi. But wait: I wanted to kill them
Moore flitters in and out of her lower-class accent more often than
Bruce's facial hair changes. Alan Rudolph's direction is several degrees
below film school schlock: he trots out every camera angle, all of them
unnecessarily. I won't even go into the flashes of religious imagery,
such as cutting to a chintzy painting of the Last Supper in a funeral
parlor where Joyce and Cynthia argue (read: someone is a Judas).
A Browse through the Showcase Cinema Art Gallery (all the prints
are for sale) deserves your time more than Mortal Thoughts deserves
your money.
MORTAL THOUGHTS is playing at Showcase Cinema.


The Feelies hang in a way hip, semi-rural diner. Bandmember Stanley Demeski, at center, looks kind of like the

Pixies' Black Francis, don't you think?
from Time For a Witness, the
Feelies transform the pop airhead-
edness of the Beach Boys/early
Beatles three-minute ditty into a
twitching, apprehensive anxiety
that gets released only when it as-
cends to the pinnacle of dread and
threat suggested by the turbid
tempo of the infusion of punk sensi-
The Feelies' pop is by no means
comprised of fey expressions of
puppy love, but rather is informed
by the haunting glamour of insecu-
rity and doubt that was frequently
obscured by the gorgeous music of
"Pale Blue Eyes" and "Candy
Says." Only the Feelies don't dis-
guise their sentiments like the
Velvets or in the fashion that ihe

Stones did on "Let it Bleed." Their
music doesn't serve as a hook; usu-
ally it's about as pleasant as stage
fright. Most Feelics' songs take the
path from jangly pop to queasy
delirium. Of course, the end result is
implosion and collapse. The signs of
this are usually readily apparent -
Glenn Mercer or Bill Million will
break a string, Dave Weckerman or
Stanley Demeski will fall off beat,
Brenda Sauter's bass underpinnings
will lag behind.
This is why their live gigs are so
important. The Feelies' music is def-
initely not about polish and accom-
plishment; despite their jangly gui-
tar riffs, they are not R.E.M. Their
albums have gotten progressively
smoother and more "mature," with

their latest glistening having an al-
most AOR sheen. But live, their
perpetually nervous rhythms get
more discomforting and the manic
intensity of the guitar crescendos
attain a frenetic, hardcore fervor. On
stage is also where their brilliant
covers achieve their greatest effect.
Only in a club can their hyper-ki-
netic versions of Neil Young's
"Sedan Delivery," Jonathan
Richman's "Road Runner" and the
Monkees' "I'm a Believer" escape
the ghetto of being simply a
"clever" cover.
THE FEELIES play at the Pig on
Monday, May 6 with the
opening. Tickets are $9 in advance
at TicketMaster (p.e.s.c.) Doors
open 9:30 p.m.

Crime and the City
Paradise Discotheque
Through his casting of live per-
fomances by the Mick Harvey
Connection - Nick Cave and the

Bad Seeds and Crime and the City
Solution - in his 1988 film classic
Wings of Desire, director Wim
Wenders brought an added degree of
devious irony to his seemingly
fairy-tale sentiment: an angel de-
scends to earth and meets Woman,
but to the dirge-rock strains of


Europe's most lugubrious bands-
It made sense: not just because
both groups were based in Berlin,
but because their lyricists - Cave
and Crime's Simon Bonney - have
always drawn redemption from the
jaws of apparent gloom. Crime and
the City Solution's 1989 record,
The Bride Ship, used Columbus'
voyage as an epic metaphor for the
course of capitalism as a ship of
fools, but its keynote, "The Shadow
of No Man," was an optimistic, so-
cialist anthem.
CCS's third album, Paradise
See RECORDS, Page 13

Continued from page 11
subjected to vilification for remarks
offending the sensibilities of racial
minorities, women, or lesbians and
gay men.
Because of these policies,
universities are failing in achieving
the goal of liberal education:
broadening minds and developing
individuals as free thinkers.
Moreover, all sense of community
is abandoned.
D'Souza finds much of this
thinking at Michigan. He
particularly concentrates on the
University's anti-discrimination
policy, which sanctions students for
unacceptable speech directed against
minorities, women, or lesbians and
gay men.
This effort, D'Souza argues, has
"created an artificiality of discourse
among peers, and thus has become an
obstacle to that true openness that
seems to be the only sure footing

for equality. For when sentiments
are outlawed, they tend to go
beneath the surface, where they
fester and emerge in the form of
rebellious humor and other
sometimes ugly gestures which can
lead to 'racial incidents."' The
consequences of the University's
policy, D'Souza writes, "is to
promote rebellion in the name of
harmony, to exacerbate bigotry
while claiming to fight it, and
ultimately to undermine the norms
of fairness and exchange which are
central both to the university and
minority hopes for racial
understanding and social justice."
Most of D'Souza's arguments
carry a lot of weight, but this one
about Michigan misses the mark,
Racial incidents here were not the
result of the discriminatory
harassment policy. Rather, the
opposite is true: the policy was the
result of racial incidents. The airing
of racist jokes on WJJX, the
See BOOKS, Page 13










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